HC Deb 14 June 1910 vol 17 cc1229-56

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I beg to move the Second Reading of the Bill for taking the Census on 2nd April, 1911. The Bill, which has now been in the hands of Members for some considerable time, follows generally the Census Act of 1900. It applies to Scotland as well as England and Wales, but it does not apply to Ireland, for which country a separate Bill will be introduced this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It is only right I should tell the House that in preparing this Bill and the schedules, instructions and regulations that ensue from the measure, the Local Government Board have been advised by the Registrar-General for some considerable time, and he has consulted with the various authorities—the learned societies and statistical experts—on the plan, method and condition and the procedure of taking the Census that will be secured under this Bill. It is only right the House should be informed that, important though this Bill is, the schedules and regulations that accompany it are really the most important and most operative part of those measures. The House would probably like to know that the Royal Statistical Society and the Society of Medical Officers of Health, who the House will at once recognise are intimately acquainted with subjects of this kind, have been good enough to thank the Registrar-General and the Local Government Board for the consideration given to the suggestions of those societies. Generally speaking, they are in favour of the improvement and additions that have been made both in the Bill and in the accompanying schedules. I should like also to say that the Bill and the schedules, as well as the instructions, make a considerable advance on the methods of taking the Census. While the new Bill contains the essential features—the standard features of the old Bill—a few improvements and necessary additions have been made. For the first time in the English Census we are making provision for information being obtained from married couples as to the duration of marriage and the number of children born of the marriage. We believe that this will furnish data of the highest value for the study of certain social problems, such as comparative fertility in classes of different social positions, and in occupations, bearing on age and upon certain questions relating to infant and child mortality, to which increasingly the community is giving closer attention. We are justified in asking for this addition on the broad grounds that since 1851 the birth-rate has dropped from 34 to 26 per 1,000, while, I am glad to say, in the same period there has been a set-off by the death-rate having been reduced from 23 to 15 per 1,000. The marriage rate has remained on the whole fairly stationary, or only dropped from 17 to 15 per 1,000, and it is a matter of congratulation to everybody that infant mortality, about which we hope to get increasing information and which for many years stood practically stationary, in the last five years has dropped from 145 to 109 per thousand in England and Wales, and in London from 144 to 107. I believe that if we had had some of the information that we hope to get by this Census as to the fertility of marriage, and the light which it would bring to bear upon this, and kindred matters—if we had had this information thirty or forty years ago—the reduction which we have secured in the last five years might probably have occurred twenty-five or thirty years ago.

Another alteration and addition, and a very important one, is, that under the Census Act of 1900 an inquiry was instituted as to the number of rooms which were inhabited by the man who returned the answers to the questions, and by the persons who were living in the house, but it was restricted in one definite direction, because the inquiry was as to the number of persons who were living in a house and occupying five rooms or less. Anyone who has any knowledge of housing conditions will know that if we want to get at certain facts with regard to housing, public health, and, above all, density of population with regard to housing, it is not necessary you should confine your investigations to persons living in a house of five rooms or less, particularly when we know that some of the worst forms of density and overcrowding occur in six, eight, or ten-roomed houses. The London County Council and other local bodies attach great importance to the information which we hope to get under the new Census, and we think that the number of rooms occupied by a family in a tenement may be a better unit of statistics than the number of persons in a house of five rooms or less. Clause 5 of this Bill varies from Section 5 of the Bill of 1900, and has been simplified. The enumerators' duties are to be prescribed, and instructions are to be issued in a clearer form than hitherto. Clause 6 enables wider provision to be made for the inclusion of large establishments where large numbers of people do mostly congregate, such as hotels, big firms, institutions, and so forth. The reports and returns, we trust—in fact, I am convinced of it by what I have seen—will be simpler, and we provide that a preliminary Report shall be laid sooner than the preliminary Report of last Census, and, indeed, at as early a date as practicable without setting any limit of three or five months, and the Registrar-General hopes that the preliminary Report will be out within less than three months after the Census is taken, while he is optimistic enough to believe that the main Report may be considerably earlier than usual—that is, if the Treasury sanction, as I trust they may, a certain mechanical apparatus for tabulation and counting, which I think they would be well advised to grant.

Another new point is in Section 9, and that will enable the Registrar-General to supply statistical information which might be gleaned from the Census Returns, but is not published in his Report, so that the council of a county borough or an urban district council and many other councils for definite public purposes may avail themselves of useful information that is in the Census Office, but which has not been used. Subject to the proper conditions laid down by the Registrar-General, therefore, as to confidence, it will be open to students and others and public bodies to be able to get more detailed information than has been customary from previous Censuses. The enumerators under this Bill will be asked to make a statutory declaration in regard to their duties, and in this respect it is similar to the Irish Act. I had hoped that a quinquennial Census might have been provided for in this Bill on this occasion, but the fates and finance—both of which mean the Treasury—have decided otherwise, and we cannot include in this Bill an absolutely statutory provision for a quinquennial Census five years hence. But if this Census works satisfactorily, as we hope it will, there is plenty of time between now and the lapse of the next four years for those who desire a quinquennial Census to press their point upon the Treasury at a time when that body is less obdurate than it is now.


What would be the cost?


Frankly, there is something to be said for the Treasury in this matter. Continually we hear from Members on all sides of the House that large and increasing demands are being made upon the Treasury by this House for public reforms, and a quinquennial Census may mean anything from £100,000 to £185,000. The Treasury say that the time has arrived when they must begin to listen to advisers of economy in some form, and as I am nothing if not an economist in the administration of my Department, although the Treasury happen to be against me on this particular scheme that I have put forward, I think there is some reason for their refusal. With regard to certain proposals that have been made as to what the Census should be, I content myself on this occasion by quoting the opinion of four or five very distinguished statisticians, the late Sir Robert Giffen, Dr. Ogle, Mr. Ryan, and Sir Alexander Bailey, and I would recommend those hon. Members who wish to include everything to consider what they have stated. They say that they are all agreed that it is better to devote attention to rendering the facts obtained by the Census more accurate than they are than to increase the facts obtained by extending their scope. I believe, therefore, it is best to obtain the greatest possible accuracy under sixteen heads of information, and better for Census information and reliable statistics, than the course of diffusing the information and making it of doubtful value over thirty or forty heads. It should never be forgotten in this connection that in this country every head of a family is his own statistician, and too many questions have a tendency to puzzle some persons when they are intricate in detail and large in number. In some of the countries where the number of questions asked is more than here, the enumerator, the expert, and the official answer the questions, whereas in this country the head of the family does it himself. I prefer the British method. I think by enlarging the columns as we do from twelve to sixteen, by giving three or four sub-heads with regard to the fertility of marriage on the lines I have previously suggested, etc., we improve this Census considerably beyond previous Censuses, and all the experts with whom I have come into contact agree that on the lines which I have laid down in the Bill, and the accompanying Schedule, the Census of 1911 will be an advance on that of 1901.

If the Schedule is drawn, as it will be, on the improving lines of the Bill, much valuable information will be secured, and we have taken, as it was our duty, the precaution of consulting with the Board of Education, the Board of Trade, the Home Office, and many of the outside societies which were interested in this matter, and they agree with me that we shall be able to get light on a number of social, public health and vital statistical problems by means of this improved Census, and that we did not have sufficient information before. My last point is this. It has been suggested somewhere that there is an attempt to alter a number of boundaries, which the people of this country very properly respect, because the enumerators' districts are to be slightly different than those which prevailed at the last Census. What we have done, however, is consistent with the maintenance of all the ancient boundaries of the civil parishes, and of the ecclesiastical parishes, and all these have been made to harmonise with Ordnance Survey Maps, so that we not only get a statistical view of it, but we get a standard map area which would be a symmetrical and also a statistical unit of greater value than now. The returns and the report will be useful for local, parochial, county and national use, and we think we ought to get the support of the House to a measure of this importance. Another point I may mention is that we are in communication with the Colonies and the Dominions Beyond the Seas to see whether it would not be possible, and I hope it is not too late, to get even for 1911 a Census of the Empire at approximately the same time, which would be as mutually beneficial to the Colonies and Dominions as it would be to the Mother Country. I sincerely trust that I have, in a brief space, given a quite sufficient explanation of the Census Bill for 1911, and that the House will allow us to get the Second Reading this afternoon.


The question put across the floor of the House just now by the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) about cost is of importance in regard to the last reference in the speech of my right hon. Friend with regard to the possibility of an Imperial Census, and, curiously enough, is somewhat connected with the investigation of this subject. My right hon. Friend told the House that he was unable to agree to a quinquennial Census, much as he personally would have preferred it, on account of Treasury objections on the ground of cost, and that connects with the Imperial question, as most of our Colonies and Dominions now have a quinquennial Census. In Australia, of course, there have been before Federation constant meetings of the Committee of Statisticians of all the Colonies, as they were, and as they are now States, of the Commonwealth, and the Australian Censuses have now been brought into harmony one with another. New Zealand also has given her help, and there has been an interchange of information. In the Australian Dominions the Censuses are not only quinquennial, but their statistics are much more detailed, and are more complete than those of this country.

In this country we have, of course, in this, as in many other things, a more departmental treatment of the subject. One of the proposals which has always been favoured by large sections of statisticians in this country is that there should be a permanent Census Office, that office taking the statistical work of the other Departments so far as it is not concerned with the working of Acts of Parliament, legislative statistical work. For instance, the Home Office mine work must no doubt be left to the Department, and I think the tax statistical work will have to be left almost with Somerset House. But as regards the Local Government Board statistics my right hon. Friend, who has met the Statistical Society and our Census Committee most fairly and kindly upon this Bill, and discussed the matter with great care with everyone who is entitled to an opinion, is at the head of a Department which is an offender in this statistical respect, that is to say that the Local Government Board, for instance, overlapping the Board of Trade, deluges the country with statistics which, from their enormous bulk, grow continually more and more into arrear, and which concern names and districts which are not comparable statistically with similar names and different districts in the Board of Trade Returns.

If it were in order, I could expand this matter by showing the different names in the Board of Trade statistics clashing with the Home Office statistics. I mention it on this Bill only because the counsel of perfection would be that, instead of taking on a lot of enumerators, not very highly skilled, once in ten years, we should have, not only a quinquennial Census, but a permanent Census Office, where you could keep the same men on, and that, I believe, would save money instead of spending more in introducing a scientific system. To carry out a complete census of production and of occupation, and to collect infant mortality statistics for trades would necessitate undue cost. To put ourselves on a par with our oversea dominions, with our Australian colonies in particular, we ought, of course, to concentrate most of our statistical work in a properly skilled Department of permanent men, and replace as far as possible the unskilled enumerators. That covers the whole question of the schedule of the questions that you ask, because it is no use asking questions unless you can get them on something like a comparable plan, unless you can get them sufficiently intelligently asked and answered to get them uniform throughout the country. To inquirers into social problems, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walter Long) well knows in connection with unemployed work, one of the greatest difficulties of the whole problem is that while you know what you would like to know you cannot get it. The difficulty of putting exactly the same question in such a way as to get a comparable answer in questions like occupation and unemployment is all but insuperable. Trade unionists, of course, are inclined not to see the difficulty, because in trade unions the thing is to be done. They work on one plan and use their language in the same way. But if you get outside the trade union world the difficulty of getting occupation statistics and basing trade mortality statistics upon the work of an ordinary Census is overwhelming. The more questions you ask the more statistically untrustworthy are the results likely to become.

My right hon. Friend said with truth, that the Bill is looked upon as containing improved schedules, especially by the Census Committee of the Statistical Society, of which I was a member. That Committee was satisfied, as far as it went, but it made recommendations for a quinquennial Census, pointing to that larger reform which underlies the whole matter of which I spoke just now. It was a very strong committee, as strong a committee, I think, as could be got together in this country, and their main recommendations, so far as they have not been carried out, are these. The first is that it would conduce to the better preparation of the Census and to economy in its cost if my right hon. Friend had been allowed to pass this Bill last year. That was strongly recommended, and I think it is no secret that he inclined that way. His answer to questions pointed to that inference. I know the reply, which is that everything has been done in advance, and I have no doubt that is so, but I think it would probably have helped towards economy if it had been passed sooner. Then there is the proposal, which is a second line proposal, a compromise as regards the quinquennial Census, that the principal Census being taken once every ten years there should be either an intermediate Census, less costly and less important, but checking the results on those points where in time they go wrong, or else that power should be taken in this Bill to shorten the, period. In the Census of Production Bill there are these words: "And at such future period as shall," etc. That is to say, power is taken for shortening the period by words put into the Act. It would be a fair compromise if we had words of that sort put into this Bill.

Then there is the suggestion, which commends itself naturally, that we should strive to get uniformity between the three Kingdoms. One of the most extraordinary facts and one of the greatest difficulties in the way of anything like statistical uniformity in the Imperial Census is that the statistics in the three Kingdoms are different in the form in which they are compiled for the United Kingdom. Although in the case of the forthcoming Census there is more uniformity, yet even now the three are not exactly the same, and the method of enumeration will not be exactly similar. When you come to consider details the differences are terrible. The steps of age are different in Ireland, and the whole system of local government is so different that the statistics are not comparable, and in statistics of other Departments—going beyond the Census—these differences are accentuated between the three Kingdoms. We have very much confidence in the working of the present Census this time so far as England and Wales are concerned, because the present Registrar-General was an active member and was vice-president of the Statistical Society, and is a most competent statistician having the confidence of the most brilliant of our statisticians. I have no doubt that everything possible will be done within the limits of the Bill to carry out to the full these new suggestions which have been made by him and by my right hon. Friend. Near the end of his speech he made an announcement as to the use of the Census during the three or four years while the temporary staff is still working on the results for the purpose of local investigations for corporations and so forth. I would warn him with regard to the ordnance maps that they are not entirely trustworthy for this purpose, as has been shown in previous Debates, especially as regards nomenclature, but still these special inquiries will be of great value, and I think they point to the possibility of one day convincing the House of Commons and the Treasury that a permanent Census Office might be desirable, and might not be costly, but, if so, is it possible to convince Scotland, is it possible to convince Ireland, that it will be to the advantage of the other Kingdoms to come into one system or, at all events, to make their work exactly similar with regard to ages, which vary so much, and nomenclature so that the results as regards the three Kingdoms may be comparable results which could be put before foreign countries as affecting the whole country? We are not setting a very brilliant example to other nations of statistical success in this country, though I think our statisticians are probably looked upon as the best in the world and looked up to by all portions of the statistical world. The power they show in using the statistics they have is, I think, not to be rivalled, even in Australia, which stands very high, but the material they have to work on is imperfect as far as the Government is concerned and is haphazard. Hon. Members will do well to supplement the inquiry undertaken each year now in the interest of economy by the Publications Committee. I know the right hon. Gentleman sympathises with our view as to carrying out the recommendation of a very strong Departmental Committee which sat some years ago in favour of a Statistical Office, which would conduct the Census itself. Our Publications Committee, being appointed only with a view to economy, and not to science, I suppose some of them took a different view, and although they took evidence on the subject, they only reported in these general words:— Your Committee have been struck by the fact that this question [the preparation of official statistics] has not received greater attention since the inquiries conducted by the Official Statistics Committee appointed by the Treasury in 1877, and by the further Depart- mental Committee appointed in 1890 to inquire into certain questions connected with the taking of the Census. These were extraordinarily strong Committees, it is almost impossible to conceive stronger, as is shown in the evidence of the Secretary of the Statistical Society before the Committee on Official Publications. He was asked about Departmental Committees in connection with taking the Census. He said it was a very strong Departmental Committee "twenty-five years ago." They issued in 1881 a Report which was laid before Parliament by Lord Frederick Cavendish, Secretary to the Treasury. Then he was asked whether Mr. W. H. Smith, in appointing the Committee, had this matter in view. He said he had, and that the recommendations were signed by Mr. Childers, Mr. Arthur Balfour, Mr. Ritchie, afterwards Lord Ritchie, and Mr. Welby, afterwards Lord Welby. It was as strong a Committee as you could get together.

6.0 P.M.

Something substantial has been done between that time and now. Each Department has done something towards the improvement of the statistics, but the main difficulties of the Departments have not yet been got over. We remain with the same differences between the three parts of the United Kingdom which we had at that time. My right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board is not responsible. The House of Commons and the country are responsible for the fact that greater improvements have not-been made. My right hon. Friend has done everything in his power, and I am sure the Registrar-General has done everything that could be done in the circumstances of the case. I thank them for the way they have met us, and I hope that the House of Commons may put constant pressure on the Government with the view of bringing about a system which will improve our statistics—not to get statistics after Acts of Parliament have been passed, but to get sound statistics in advance which could be issued on a-uniform scale by a highly efficient officer.


I do not rise to criticise in any way the suggestions which were made by the President of the Local Government Board or the conclusions at which he has arrived. I desire very briefly to support the views advanced by the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Dilke) and to reinforce them by one or two remarks. The hon. Baronet pointed out the way in which the Census differs in the three Kingdoms and falls short of the scientific level which is reached by the statistics of other countries. He reminded the House that a Committee sat very many years ago and made recommendations which had so far failed to make any impression on the country. The President of the Local Government Board is in no way responsible for the fact that our Census is not what we should like it to be. The right hon. Baronet referred to the character of the Census Office. When I was President of the Local Government Board a good many years ago it was found that in connection with the Census a very serious mistake occurred, and inaccurate figures were circulated in the early copies of the Census. The inaccuracy was brought to my notice by people who attached very great importance to these figures, because they required them for their own purposes. They were very much concerned when they found they were inaccurate. No one was more distressed than the head of the Census Department. He felt that the credit of the Department was at stake, but how could he be really held responsible by the House or the country for the occurrence of a mistake in the preparation of the Census when it is realised that the work has all to be done in, comparatively speaking, a very short time, and done by a staff which is got together at short notice, and which is collected from the highways and byeways and only for the period when the Census work is being done? I am convinced that there is a great deal in what the right hon. Baronet has said. I believe it would be possible to have a quinquennial Census, and that there is a great deal to be said for it. When I was President of the Local Government Board pressure was brought to bear on me from influential quarters to advance the Census from the decennial to the quinquennial period. But the objection to that was the one stated by the President of the Local Government Board, namely, the additional cost to the Treasury. It has to be made perfectly clear to the Treasury that there is such pressure of public opinion and interest in this question as to justify them in granting the demand. If we are going to make any advance on this question, it will be only by Parliament giving its attention to it and possibly arousing some further interest in the country.

I myself would throw out the suggestion that it might be well worth while, though a change cannot be made now, to consider the appointment of a Committee. I believe that a Committee, looking at this question with all the additional knowledge and experience we have got, might very well be able to draw up recommendations which would result in improving the character of the Census and possibly giving us one in the quinquennial period, and at the same time to make recommendations which would save the extra £100,000 which excites the criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir Frederick Banbury). I am quite sure that his views and those of the President of the Local Government Board are that we must not lightly cast additional charges on the Treasury. Heaven knows that the public expenditure is high enough as it is. It grows in almost every Department every year. While there are to be found in the House of Commons and out of it people who are prepared on other subjects to preach economy, when their own subject comes to be dealt with in the House of Commons the love of economy disappears, and they recommend extra expenditure. The Treasury watches public expenditure with a very jealous eye, but they are not always able to discriminate between the different demands made upon them and to treat each on its merits. In my own experience what they were forced to do in many cases was not merely to look into the merits of individual suggestions, but also to ask themselves what was the measure of support those suggestions would receive in the House of Commons, and even although a proposal might not be the best of those before them, it might get the grant when a more meritorious subject was for the moment passed by. I cannot help thinking that the time has come when a Committee might with advantage be appointed who would open the whole question again, and I think they might make recommendations which would lead to an improvement in the Census without necessarily adding to the cost to the extent to which the President of the Local Government Board referred just now. I welcome the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman that he has taken steps to try to get Census figures from our Dominions oversea. I think that is a valuable step, and I congratulate him upon it, but I am afraid it will not be so satisfactory as if the Census here were put on a more satisfactory footing. I have profound admiration for our permanent officials, believing that they are beyond compare both in their knowledge and skill. They deserve well of their country, but there is no official who deserves more commendation than the one who is responsible for the preparation of the Census, because he is called upon to do work of a highly technical kind, which is difficult and complicated, with a staff temporarily collected, and engaged only for the time being. If hon. Members had had the opportunity, as I have had, of going to the Census Office, when the Census is being prepared and seeing the officers and staff at work, I am confident that they would realise that we have not exaggerated what happens in the descriptions we have given of the work, I would be very glad if the President of the Local Government Board could see his way to accept the suggestion that a Committee should be set up to inquire whether any changes could be made without any considerable addition, or any addition, to the cost of the Census. I believe if certain improvements were made; the Census would give us figures which would be more valuable and reliable than those we have at present. I think it is fair to say that within their power those who are called upon to prepare the Census have performed their work with the greatest possible credit.


I think when we have a Bill of this kind before us, which has to be decided quickly, it is much better that we should deal with proposals for its improvement than that it should be sent to a Committee, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) suggested.


I did not suggest that this Bill should be submitted to a Committee.


I understood the right hon. Gentleman to propose that the various suggestions should be put before a Committee. I say that here and now, if possible, alterations for the improvement of the Bill ought to be decided quickly; but if the right hon. Gentleman will help me in carrying through a suggestion which I have to make I will be willing to hand over other matters to a Committee or conference. In the course of the last couple of months, during which this Bill has been before the House, I myself and my colleagues and other Members of the House have made suggestions to the President of the Local Government Board that he should improve the Bill in one respect. The suggestion that I have to make is one that would be of great advantage, not only from the philological point of view, but also to people of other races, who happen to be living in Great Britain. At the present moment, I think that public opinion has come to recognise that the efforts of the various people in the United Kingdom to maintain their language have passed out of the region of controversy. I would suggest to the President of the Local Government Board that at the next Census information should be obtained as to the Welsh, Irish, and Scotch Gaelic now being spoken in Great Britain. It would merely mean the addition of a single column, and if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to support an Amendment which I will put down for the Committee stage, I am sure, so far as myself and colleagues are concerned, he will have every assistance in having the Census Bill carried through.


The point I wish to raise has reference to the remarkable difference between the Irish and the British Census. There is a column in the Irish Census with respect to the religious opinion and religious profession of the people, but there is not a similar column in the Census for Great Britain. I fear I should be in some way throwing an apple of discord into the House by bringing up this question of religious education and religious profession on the Second Beading of the Bill, but I hope to be able to move an Amendment in Committee to insert religious profession as a column to be filled up in the new Census. I think we have had enough of unofficial Censuses. Ever since the Census of 1851, which was conducted by Mr. Mann, which was more or less an official Census, there have been, and especially in Wales, series of unofficial Censuses carried out by the various denominations that endeavoured to ascertain the facts as regards the numbers of these denominations. I think the time has now arrived when the facts can only be ascertained by an official Parliamentary Census. On the general question of religious Census I should like to point out that Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well as the United States of America, have all religious Censuses. They have not found them any infringement of individual liberties, and they find that the Census is easy to get, and, as in the case of Germany, is most perfect. Let us remember that in Ireland there has been a Census every decade since 1861, and that that Census has given very valuable returns of the various religious denominations in that country. It may be urged that it is an infringement of personal liberty to ask any man his religious profession. Why I cannot myself see; but an Amendment could be inserted, and I propose to put it on the Paper, to allow the return of religious profession to remain optional. Then it will be urged that a large number of persons will not make this return, but I should point to the instance of Ireland, where over 98 per cent., I believe, in every single Census have returned their religious profession.

I wish to refer to the types of religious Census which have permeated Great Britain, and I think that it will show the need for a broad-minded, non-partisan, and official Census of the religious professions. There was a Census undertaken for Wales in the year 1887 by Mr. Gee, of Denbigh. He endeavoured to find out the religious professions of the people of Wales by the number of attendances at churches arid chapels on a particular Sunday. The result of this Census was that he was held up to opprobrium, and more than opprobrium, by a certain section of the Press in Wales. A certain publication, named "Y. Golenad," wrote as follows:— If Mr. Gee had been the greatest enemy of nonconformity that Wales ever produced, he could not betray nonconformity more disgracefully and thoroughly than he has done in this matter. Nonconformist Wales will he bound to look upon him as one who has committed the greatest possible crime—a crime that has placed us in the hands of our enemies. That was written by a Welsh newspaper because a Census of the persons attending various places of worship of the different denominations in Wales on Sunday was taken. Why should it be, on such a question as this, necessary to use heated language, and to say that various denominations have ulterior motives either in keeping the Census hidden or in ventilating the facts? What I wish particularly to urge is that when there is such a question as Disestablishment and Disendowment we should be in possession of the whole facts, and that when the counting of heads is produced by one side or the other as an argument for or against Disestablishment or Disendowment, the figures and facts given should be official, and should not be of the type of statistics or of Censuses that are so frequently used on the platform.

The next religious Census that took place was undertaken by Mr. Owen Owens, and was published in "The Times" on 18th December, 1891. That also was a very remarkable Census. This is the way in which it was taken. He selected a certain Sunday in November and appointed enumerators to go to the various churches and chapels and places of worship in Wales and to bring back statistics. I may tell you that in one place the two enumerators who were appointed were aged eleven and thirteen respectively, and in the returns which they sent in there was the astonishing variation of 45 per cent. Those statistics, although you frquently hear of them on platforms, and they are frequently used, are perfectly worthless. If religious statistics are to be used at all it is time that we had official statistics. There is one question to which I should like to refer with regard to the last figures given on the subject of religious profession in Wales. Only last year the President of the Free Church Council, speaking at Swansea, at a meeting of the Council, produced a large number of statistics not only about the denomination which he was representing, but also about the Established Church. I think I need not crtiticise the reverend gentleman, but I will read to you just a few sentences of what the Bishop of St. Davids said a fortnight later. He said that the President of the Free Church Council, in his address, said:— That the Free Churchmen in Wales numbered three-fourths of the population. He himself, in the same address, gave the figures of membership of the four largest Free Churches in Wales, and their membership, according to the president, amounts to 535,880. The minor bodies need not be taken into serious account. His own church—the Calvinistic Methodist Church—gives figures not only for members, meaning those who, in the language of our Representative Church Council are persons qualified to be communicants, but it also gives figures for adherents. Then the Bishop says:— Loose statistical assertions made by men in responsible positions warrant churchmen in demanding a Parliamentary religious Census if statistics are to be urged as a reason for Welsh Disestablishment. Why did he say that? Because, after giving those figures the President gave figures which proved to be wrong for the Established Church, and he gave figures, not for members, not for those who are qualified to be communicants, and not even for communicants, but he compared those who had communicated on one day on Easter Sunday with the total number of members of the Free Church. That we say, is an unfair comparison. Those statistics, we say, have been wrongfully applied, and until we get an official religious Census things of that sort will continue in Wales, and we shall continue to suffer from that injustice. We merely contend that if figures are to be used they should be accurate. The practical difficulty is not great. It only means adding a column to the Census. A lot of valuable information, valuable from the academic and the social as well as from the political point of view, will be gathered by such a Census, and I only hope that it is not too late for the Government to include a column for religious profession in the Census which is to be taken next year.


As a Welsh Member, I wish to enter my protest strongly against the statements which have been put before the House. In the first place, I do not think it is right that any man should be asked to subscribe himself as belonging to any religious profession in any official Bill. I take my stand on that broad point in the first instance. I do not think it is in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution in this country and the tradition and history of this Kingdom that an inquisitorial claim of this kind should be put in any official Bill.


Why is it done in Ireland?


I cannot help what is done in Ireland. We are a Protestant country here. The Inquisition has never been in vogue in this country, and I hope we shall never see the day when a question such as is suggested by the hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down, can be put to anyone, whether he is a Churchman or Nonconformist. But there is another reason which applies, perhaps, more peculiarly to Wales. There are statistics in Wales at present, as there are in England, Scotland, and Ireland, with regard to the religious profession of those unhappy people who are inmates of gaols, workhouses, and asylums, and a most extraordinary result has followed. I cannot pledge myself now to the exact result or the exact figure, but I believe it is true that those statistics show that seven out of every ten of the criminals and lunatics and paupers in Wales belong to the Established Church. I do not believe for one moment that members of the Established Church are more criminal or more lunatic or more pauper than members of Nonconformist bodies.


There is the same proportion outside.


Not even the hon. Gentleman would suggest that the proportion of members of the Established Church in Wales outside these interesting institutions is the same. Take, for instance, one little fact. What is the provision made for Church attendance by the Church of England in the diocese of St. David's, which is the oldest diocese not only in Wales, but in the Kingdom? The seating accommodation provided there for the whole of the Church population is only for 20 per cent, of the entire population. Therefore how can the hon. Gentleman suggest that in the diocese of St. David's there is a proportion of seven to three members of the Established Church to persons belonging to other denominations? If I liked to take up the time of the House I could show that in that diocese the Church has marked advantages. It is composed of rural parishes where from time immemorial there have been the ancient ecclesiastical buildings, now used as parish churches, which were originally built for the propaganda of other churches. Yet in that diocese, with all these churches which have been in existence in the rural parishes for so many centuries, provision is made for only 20 per cent, of the population. How can it be said that seven out of every ten people in that diocese, which is a typical Welsh diocese, belong to the Church of England? No; the real reason why criminals, lunatics, and paupers are returned as members of the Church of England is this, that when they are no religion they are put down as members of the Church of England. Everybody knows it, and therefore they have a right to call themselves members of the Church of England. I suppose I can claim to be a member of the Established Church, for the idea of an establishment is that every member of the State, every man who dwells within the boundaries of the Kingdom where a church has been established, is a member of that Established Church. If he does not like to describe himself as a Baptist, a Congregationalist, or a Roman Catholic, he must be described, if the Census is to be worth anything, as something. He does not describe himself as an Atheist if he is not an Atheist, or an Agnostic. Perhaps he does hot know what "Agnostic" means; or he has never been immersed, and cannot call himself a Baptist. He has never probably attended a single meeting of Congregationalists or Methodists, and therefore cannot call himself either one or the other. And remember that Nonconformists are very strict in these matters. Even up to a comparatively short time ago, if any member who had been received into the Communion of a Nonconformist church absented himself for three months from Communion he was ex-communicated. Though that rule may not now be so rigidly observed, yet here you have the fundamental difference between membership of Nonconformist bodies and membership of the Church of England. Every man is a member of the Church of England who is a citizen, and who is resident in this country, because he belongs to the State. That is the whole meaning of a State Church, and therefore anyone who cannot describe himself as a Nonconformist must be described as a member of the Church of England. For the purpose of the hon. Member opposite, or for any controversial purpose, a Census of the sort he suggests would be wholly illusory and inapplicable. The hon. Member referred to the fact of a religious Census having been taken at different times in Wales. I remember well when Mr. Gee tried to take a religious Census in 1887 or 1888, and I recollect perfectly well what then happened. In my parish only six or seven people usually attended the parish church, but when it became known all over the place that an unofficial Census was to be taken, the parish church was filled to overflowing. Where the people came from I cannot tell you, but there was the fact that the church, which was practically deserted all the year, and is now deserted to a very large extent, I am told, was on that day filled to overflowing. Then we had Mr. Owen Owen's Census. The hon. Member suggested that this Census is used on every platform in Wales to-day. For twenty-five years I have been addressing meetings in Wales, and I confess I never heard a single reference to it in any controversy.

What has been done is this. During the last twenty years Nonconformists have been trying to get the number of those who hold their views and who are in membership. Up to twenty or thirty years ago the Puritan idea prevailed in Wales that to take a Census looked somewhat sacrilegious and boastful, and there was a great feeling against numbering the people of the different denominations. But as those religious denominations became more organised it was found necessary to ascertain more exactly what the number of their members was, and they have been doing their level best during the last twenty years to obtain that information. It is true to a certain extent that these statistics were not a Census at all, but simply a return from each individual church, and they have been used and are being used to a very large extent in the controversy with regard to the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church. So far as I know, these are the only figures which are used. The Government four years ago appointed a Royal Commission—of which an eminent judge is chairman and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, Archdeacon Evans, and other prominent Churchmen are members—in order to inquire into the various statistics which have been used. I suppose the result will be known some time next year. ["Hear, hear."] I understand that cheer, but perhaps the hon. Member will not be quite so ready to cheer when the actual Report is published. I do not know what the Report is going to be, but I look forward, at all events, with perfect equanimity to the result. I am perfectly certain that the religious bodies in Wales have done their level best honestly to give the right and real figures in this matter. The House should remember that the statistics to which I have referred were, in the first instance, not intended for controversial purposes at all. There was no idea of using them in connection with Disestablishment purposes, or indeed, any controversial purpose at all. They were simply brought together in order that the religious organisations might know what their strength really was. But I do not ask this House to consider the question of Disestablishment in connection with any question of the Census. We send thirty-two Members out of thirty-four to this House pledged to Disestablishment. Since 1865 we have sent a growing majority in favour of Disestablishment, and we say, in a constitutional country, that is all we ought to look to and need look to nothing else. On all these grounds I wish to enter my respectful protest at once on behalf of my colleagues against the suggestion which has been made by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down.

There is one other matter to which I would like to draw my right hon. Friend's attention, and I do so as to a man who treasures the past in a conservative spirit—I only use the word "conservative" in a Pickwickian sense, and in no controversial sense. I understand a change is to be made in the regulations and directions that are issued from the Census Office. The House is aware that the country is divided into enumeration districts, and up to this year, as far as Wales is concerned, these enumeration districts were the old townships, whose boundaries are the streams and other natural limitations. Now, for the first time, a direction has been given to the enumeration officers that they must no longer observe these old historic marks, but go by the ordnance survey. A fear is expressed in regard to this, though I cannot bring myself to believe there is anything in it, but no doubt my right hon. Friend will make it quite clear to me that there is no intention on the part of the Census Officers to depart from the old system of getting the population of each of the old townships separately. I remember making use of the statistics that we were able to obtain two or three years ago in the rural portions of Wales. It has been possible up to now to find exactly what the population of a rural parish was thirty, forty, or a hundred years ago. All that I am concerned about is that my right hon. Friend should give an assurance, which is sadly needed in many districts of Wales, that these ancient boundaries cannot be departed from, and that we shall be able in the future, as in the past, to obtain the number of the population in all the ancient townships.

There is one other matter to which I desire to refer, and on which I should like to make a suggestion. I trust this also will be found to be non-controversial. My hon. Friend from Ireland (Mr. Boland) made a very pertinent and useful suggestion, namely, that there should be added a language column to the Census paper for the whole of the United Kingdom. May I appeal to the love of scholarship and history of my right hon. Friend in this matter? Let me give him one illustration of how the suggestion which he made will work out. Monmouth is technically still a part of England, though we Welshmen always assert that it has never been a part of England at all. For that we have the authority of Shakespeare and a good many others. The ancient boundary of Wales was not the present border, which is usually taken. For instance, in a very large part of Herefordshire up to a recent date there were Welsh-speaking people, and I do not know whether there are not Welsh-speaking people there at present. If you take the case of Herefordshire, there you have villages with Welsh names, and up to fifty or sixty years ago there was a very considerable Welsh-speaking element. In Shropshire everyone knows that there is a very considerable Welsh population still. I dare say the Welsh-speaking population in that county is decreasing; but from the historical point of view I think it will be very interesting to find out how many there are of Welsh-speaking people still in Shropshire, and whether the number is increasing or decreasing. Shropshire was a Welsh county. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I will not say it was a Welsh county, but it was part of Wales, and Shrewsbury was the capital of Mid-Wales, so that we have not lost all interest in the hon. Gentleman because he happens to call himself an Englishman. We want to know how many of his constituents are still allied to us, in speech at all events. Why should a difference be made between Monmouthshire, where the number of Welsh-speaking people is decreasing, and Shropshire, where an increasing number of people speak Welsh? I venture to say that there are quite as many people speaking Welsh in Shropshire as there are in Radnor.

In London there are, according to the lowest computation, 70,000 Welsh-speaking people, while, according to some, the number of Welsh-speaking people in London is 100,000. Is it not of some interest even to Englishmen to know the number of Welsh-speaking people? The hon. Baronet who represents the City might like to know if he was returned by Welsh-speaking persons, and in order to qualify himself to sit for an intelligent community of that sort he might even learn the language. There are* forty or fifty Welsh places of worship in London belonging to the Established Church and to the various Nonconformist bodies. Those chapels and churches swarm with people every Sunday, and surely it would be interesting, from a Census point of view, to know how many of those are resident in London? Why cannot we know? You find out how many English-speaking people there are in Wales, and why not find out how many Welsh-speaking people there are in England? I am sure it would be quite as interesting, if not more so, because everybody speaks English, which is the Lingua Franca of modern days. Liverpool is a Welsh city. The right hon. Gentleman the Irish Chief Secretary is, I believe, a native of it, and I have no doubt derives a great deal of that wit and sparkle, which we all so much admire, from his contiguity to the Welsh-speaking people of Wales. There are 100,000 Welsh-speaking people in Liverpool, or more than in Cardiff or Swansea or any Welsh city. Middlesbrough is the creation of Welshmen, and I think the English people do not appreciate how much they owe to Wales. There is here a very interesting field for inquiry, and since it would add very little trouble, and not nearly as much as that contained in the suggestion of the hon. Member for Denbigh, I would urge upon right hon. Gentlemen to substitute my suggestion as to the language. That would please the Welsh people much more, and would please scholars much more, and it is absolutely devoid of the elements of controversy. It would throw light on a matter which has escaped attention up to now, and, I submit, a matter which is well worthy of attention.


I will not be tempted to follow the two last speakers into the very attractive subjects of a religious Census or of a language Census. Both of them have great attractions and both of them are extremely important. I think my hon. Friend has made out an extremely good case for a religious Census in Wales at the present time. I rise, notwithstanding what the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean has said on the subject of unemployment, to urge that information might be obtained for us, at any rate in one column, on the subject of unemployment. It would be quite simple, I believe, and I fancy some others would probably be of the same mind, to indicate in a single column that was to be filled up by those earning weekly wages with statistics which would guide us in forming an opinion as to the average number of hours per week worked by any operative in any part of the country. We want to know more and more exactly what the conditions of employment and unemployment are. That could be done in one single column. I know quite well—and I am fully in sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman—that everyone has his own particular fad, and cannot see why in the world the right hon. Gentleman cannot go on adding column after column in order that each fad and each particular subject on which the Member may be specially interested may be dealt with. But the right hon. Gentleman has increased the columns from twelve to sixteen. I noted one of the columns to which he made special reference was as to the duration of marriages. Although statistics on the subject of the results of marriage, to which he has referred, are naturally of great importance, yet I really do not think that it is necessary to have a column or two to indicate to us the duration of marriages. I cannot think any really important matter can arise from that unless the right hon. Gentleman wanted to furnish statistics to the Commission at present considering the subject of divorce. That I do not think to be at all likely since the information would be too late.

If the right hon. Gentleman would allow one column for those parties who are in receipt of weekly wages to state either for the previous three months or the previous six months the average number of hours worked each week, then we should have before us very valuable information which cannot be obtained, and never will be obtained through Labour Exchanges. That is no part of the work they have in hand, yet it would guide us in the future as to our particular relations among our servants and with other countries, whether we are Free Traders or Tariff Reformers. It is not possible to obtain the information in any other way. Such information would guide us in the matter of labour legislation, and legislation dealing with the great subject of unemployment, which in every part of the House has now for years, and I fear for some years to come, is likely to remain the one thing on which we have concentrated our attention, and for the removal of which we desire to take any steps within our power. When the time comes, like my Friends who are interested in a religious Census for Wales and in a lingual Census for the United Kingdom, I shall venture, notwithstanding what was said by the right hon. Gentleman, to put-down an Amendment in this sense.


I hope nothing will induce the President of the Local Government Board to add any additional columns to the sixteen we already have in this Census. It is easy to ascertain in any industrial centre the hours worked in any particular industry. They are known to us in the North. When the cotton trade is slack, or working on short time, we always know the number of hours worked, and so it is with other trades in different parts of the country, with the possible exception of the agricultural interest, where they depend very largely on seasons. I do not see that anything could be gained by a column of that kind.


It is more especially with regard to casual and unorganised labour that the statistics would have their great value. Under that heading we have nothing to guide us now.


That would not be of any service. A great deal of labour of that kind is labour that you could employ in no other way, and that you would get from that class statistics such as I suggested is something which is more than would be expected by anybody who has the work of getting these statistics up. I hope we shall have nothing to do with a religious Census. I well remember some fifteen years ago, when in the City of Manchester we had a great scandal amongst our police, I was surprised to find that a religious Census was taken even of policemen, and a column was provided in which the religion was recorded, and of a 1,000 men there was not a single one that was not down for some religion. I have a great respect for the policeman, but I do not quite believe that every policeman in the City of Manchester belonged to any particular religious denomination. I think you will find by any Census you took of that kind that men and women who are belonging to no religious denomination would much prefer to classify themselves with some religious denomination sooner than put down that they have no religious belief. I rose chiefly to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he could see his way, having acquired all this information at great cost, to make a little more use of it than will be the intention. There will be in this Census information collected which will be very valuable to corporations who could make use of it, and save themselves considerable expense. It would be useful to education committees to know the age of children, and when they are liable to nave to attend in the schools.

7.0 P.M.

That is information which would save them a great deal of expense. There is also the question of overcrowding. Those who have had anything to do with the administration of municipal bodies know how difficult it is to get to know the number of people resident in certain houses, especially in slum districts. It may be argued that if this information is to be made use of people will not be so ready to give it. All the same, if the information is to be col- lected in this detailed way I think it is in the interests of the country generally that the best use should be made of it, and that it should be open to the municipalities who require such information in regard to their own towns. If the right hon. Gentleman can see his way to assist the municipalities in the manner I have suggested he will be conferring upon them a very great favour.


There has been no opposition whatever in the course of the discussion to the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Boland). On the contrary, it has been supported in more than one quarter of the House, and I hope it will have the favourable consideration of the President of the Local Government Board. With regard to taking a religious Census in this country, I cannot understand why Ireland has been dragged into the Debate. Some hon. Members have been anxious to know why it is that you can take a religious Census in Ireland while apparently you cannot in Great Britain. The explanation is very obvious. It is simply that we in Ireland possess an intellectual courage which is entirely unknown in this country. There are many people in Ireland, as elsewhere, who get considerable comfort from tot practising their religion; but I have never yet met anybody in Ireland who wanted to conceal it. At all events, we have no difficulty in making a religious Census in Ireland. But I am anxious not to interfere in the matter, particularly as the Members who oppose a religious Census for Wales support Home Rule for Ireland, while those who support a religious Census in Wales oppose Home Rule for Ireland. Therefore I think they might well be left to decide this matter for themselves. But for anybody who wants to make an exhaustive study of a modern community, statistics of religious belief are absolutely indispensable. If you do not have official statistics, you will have unofficial statistics. We in Ireland do not regard the religious Census as a great grievance; we take it as a matter of course, and I think the Census would be altogether incomplete without it.

I have risen, however, to say a word in support of the suggestion of my hon. Friend with reference to obtaining information as to linguistic conditions. There is a provision in the Bill for enumerating the speakers of Welsh and of English in Wales and Monmouthshire; there is a similar provision with regard to the speakers of Gaelic and English in Scotland. We have been told that there is in the City of London a large number of Welsh settlers and residents who still keep up Welsh as a living language. Within ten minutes' walk of this House you will find societies which exist for the sole purpose of preserving Irish as a spoken language amongst Irish immigrants in London, and of propagating the language amongst the younger generation. The London County Council has made provision for placing Irish upon its examination programmes. All this renders it of great interest to us to have accurate statistics as to the number of speakers of Irish, of Welsh, and of Scotch Gaelic in this country. It would not entail any additional expense; it means merely the addition of a column, which would attract only those whom you wish to reach. The man who speaks English only would take no interest in the column, while the bilingual speaker would take an interest in it, and make an accurate return. When the Census of Production Bill was before the House, the Chancellor of the Exchequer consented the moment he was asked to include a separate record of economic conditions in Ireland. I am sorry to say that in that Census the information has not been given with so much detail in the Irish returns as in the returns of this country. As a matter of fact, a large volume of the Census of Production dealing with certain industries is absolutely worthless, because people say they could not give the facts regarding the industries without betraying the position of their firms to their rivals; but so far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer could he met us, and I hope the President of the Local Government Board will meet us in this respect.

Captain COOPER

I so rarely find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Kettle) that I wish to support his remarks in this connection. In Ireland we do not regard the religious Census as any grievance whatever, and I hope the President of the Local Government Board will see his way to include it in the English Census. We have suffered from what an hon. Member from Wales described as "an intolerable presumption" for sixty years, and we have not even noticed it. In Ireland to whatever religious community we belong we are proud of the fact, and are glad to state it. A Welsh Member said that as in gaols, lunatic asylums, and workhouses, so in the Census, those who had no religion at all would describe themselves as belonging to the Church of England. But in this Census a man may state that he has no religion, or that he prefers not to give it. Only two per cent., however, take advantage of this provision in Ireland, and I think that in this as in other respects Ireland sets a precedent which might well be followed by the rest of the United Kingdom. It is no doubt a great blow to Nonconformists to realise that the Chief Secretary, who was at one time looked upon as the Moses who was going to lead them into the Church schools, is now to bring in a Bill actually imposing this so-called "intolerable presumption" on the whole population of Ireland. But it is not felt to be a grievance, although we have a tolerably sharp sense of grievances in Ireland, and I do not think it would be felt to be a grievance in England. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will accede to the suggestion, and add this column to the Census.